I’m not one to play hooky. Lying to your boss or whomever superior you report to in order to skirt your daily responsibilities is an act more excruciating then getting frisked at the U.S./Canada border (yes, that happened and is a topic for a different post). Fibbing has never been easy for this former altar boy. If I were going to lie, it had better be for a good reason, and it had better result in something epic.
My reason, good or not, was that I was falling out of love with my city, Boston. Skyrocketing rent prices, an infuriating public transit system that constantly makes me late, endless news updates on Tom Brady’s new pets–all were impacting my mood. I was becoming the person I loathe: the perma-complainer. And I wanted to stop the insanity. (Cue Susan Powter.)
The idea dawned on me while leaving karaoke on a high with friends one night: what about a day to remind myself why I initially fell in love with Boston? A day that can only be experienced while most of the city is at their 9-5. A day filled with firsts. A day proving that life isn’t meant to be a monotonous repetition of work and sleep.
Some friends immediately and unofficially signed up. We were going to channel our inner Ferris Bueller, who made his mark on ’80s movie history by taking a “sick day” and hightailing it out of his Chicago suburb and into the big city. There was a ride in his friend’s dad’s sports car, lunch at a swanky eatery, a climb to the top of the Sears Tower, and (naturally) crashing a parade while initiating a danceathon to “Twist and Shout.” Parades weren’t scheduled for our own hooky day in Boston, but we were hopeful. [Writer’s note: in case former or previous bosses stumble upon this post, the actual day and year of my hooky day will not be revealed. Hey, even Ferris was able to keep his cover to authority figures in the film.]
Our initial meeting spot was at a waterfront restaurant none of us had been to for breakfast. Jeff showed up in a red T-shirt promoting Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. (This reference shouldn’t be lost on Ferris fanatics.) Colleen showed up as she typically does–all smiles. (Another friend, Nora, made the trek from her home in Connecticut and met us later.) I arrived at my usual time–late–by way of a water taxi across Boston Harbor. The subway was for worker bees. Today, I was abuzz with excitement. Making the trek all the better was the cloudless sky and temps approaching 80 degrees.
As I OD’d on coffee amid my friend’s bantering, we leisurely mapped out our day. The Freedom Trail, which passes through Boston’s top historic sites, wasn’t a first for me, but for others. Our initial plan was to take the trail through the North End, the city’s Italian district, and climb the Bunker Hill monument. That idea was scrapped once we got sidetracked by sweets from a local bakery and a panini at a nearby restaurant. Oh, forgot to mention that getting diabetes was also on the agenda.
“Huzzah!” we screamed in unison at our next stop. While mimicking the language of the late 1700s, we were also instructed to stomp our feet and turn our nose at England’s outrageous tea taxes while inside the new Boston Tea Party Museum. The structure actually floats within Boston Harbor, and gives you the chance to throw tea into the sea (their tagline, not mine). I was prepared to replicate history, when a sea of kids stormed the side of the ship and dumped all of the fake goods into the water. “Off with their heads!” I said to my friends, likely within earshot of hardly amused parents.
The top of my to-do list was an inaugural climb up Boston’s Custom House, my favorite skyscraper that has a sleekness and pointed top that separates it from nearby counterparts. The Interwebs said that the staff sometimes allows guests to access its observation deck. Missing the 2:15 p.m. tour to the top by only minutes, we each casually slipped the front desk person our crispest $5 bill and were granted access to the deck on the 27th floor.
I peered at the frantic downtown scene below me, and paused. There were people heading here and there, likely too busy to appreciate the beauty I was witnessing from this vantage point. On most days, I typically am one of those people. But not today. I inhaled the cool breeze and admired the sparkling blue water of the harbor. I had some of my favorite people by my side and some of the best views of the city. Nothing else was needed.
Ferris was right. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”